By Folorunso David
“Do you know why he spelt ‘beautyful’ with a Y?”
It’s been 10 years and I’m still not sure what the answer to my teacher’s question is. ‘The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born’ was not compulsory reading for students of the pure sciences in my secondary school but after the first three pages I was so engrossed in the writings of Ayi Kwei Armah that I would go on to read the novel three times! Yet I was never quite sure about the misspelling. Was Armah trying to be subtle with a cryptic message? Maybe – or maybe not.
What’s interesting is that with all the attention on Nigerian politics and the 2015 elections Armah’s message in that book is as resonating for Nigeria today as it was for Ghana in the late 60s. Perhaps the only differential is that while Armah’s fiction portrayed a post-colonialist Ghana, the Nigeria of today is preparing its fifth round of presidential elections since the military handed authority back to democratic hands.
Otherwise, many parallels can be drawn between Nkrumah’s Ghana and contemporary Nigeria.
Plenty have been written about next year’s election – offline and online. As a looker-on in the Twitter community it’s hard not to see daily pontifications on what 2015 holds for me and the other 170 million Nigerians. Clearly, Twitter’s quasi-intellectuals seem to suggest, I must choose between Buhari and Jonathan. (And ‘they’ engage in exchange of mentions in a manner couched as legitimate intellectual discourse.) That is what democracy is about: Choosing the right leaders. No argument.
What many online commentators seem to miss is that beyond thumbing for or against a presidential candidate, democracy is about institutions – democratic institutions. These are not buildings in Maitama or handles on Twitter. These are institutionalized processes. They should be part and parcel of our government enterprise.
Thence, while Goodluck Jonathan may or may not have an aversion to corruption it’s not his responsibility to stop a street policeman from “taxing” bus drivers. In a similar vein, it’s naïve to think corruption will cease to exist once Buhari becomes president. The argument for sound democratic processes and institutions go beyond corruption.
Security has been a major issue for this incumbent administration. This is largely in part because of Islamic fundamentalism that is being funded by very rich individuals. Why can’t the wire transfers or otherwise by these people be tracked? There is no appropriate transnational institution between Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon to curtail their funding or source of weaponry.
This article is deliberately intended to be short because of the flurry of writings already out there. Just remember: In 2015, electing leaders is just as important as creating the institutions where they operate.
– Follow this writer on Twitter: @funsodavid